We got up Monday morning pretty late, and Jean's family was kind enough to supply us with breakfast, and then we headed back south again into LA to meet up and celebrate Jean's birthday with her friend Damon and our friend Ryan. This involved driving through late-morning LA traffic, which resembles rush hour in PDX; rush-hour LA traffic closely resembles the parking lot of a Wal-Mart on Black Friday.
A note on traffic: I do not understand how people in LA stand sitting in their cars for so amazingly long. It's terrible.
Ryan was driving down from San Francisco, so we went to lunch at Berth 55 Seafood Deli in Long Beach. Jean had seen good reviews, and we knew driving up to it (it's a real hole in the wall sort of place) that it was going to be delicious. So we had fresh clam chowder in sourdough bowls and honestly, we should've split one rather than getting two of them. It was amazingly good. From there we drove down the Long Beach main drag and got a great view of Catalina Island, as well as seeing a beautiful house that I wouldn't mind owning if I had 15 million or so to spare. We walked down to the beach and touched the ocean, and then Ryan called to tell us he was in town so we left to meet up with him at the airport.
A note on cars: I admit it, I'm a petrolHead. I watch Top Gear, I read magazines, I like racing games, and I really, really like cars. They're fun. That said, I don't actually own one, so I automatically assume I'm superior to anyone who does own one.
We returned the rental car and piled into Ryan's Subaru Impreza to kill some time before meeting up with Damon. So we headed through various smaller municipalities to Hollywood and other parts of LA-proper. One of the places I wanted to visit while I was in LA was Meltdown Comics, AKA Nerdist HQ. So we did, since, why the hell not? Along the way we stopped for water and a pee break at a Chevron at La Cienega and Santa Monica Boulevard. This is where I found out that LA is, in fact, another country, because at the Chevron was a guy with an Audi R8. Not a celebrity or a pro athlete or anything, just some guy with board shorts and a popped collar, driving $100,000 worth of car to the Chevron for Rockstar Energy Drink and a Snickers. Then, on the way out, I spotted a Mercedes Benz CL65 AMG (models start at $210,000). Seriously, a strange, strange place. Just down Santa Monica was Meltdown, where I didn't spot anyone famous but did end up forced to listen to the local Comic Book Guy and restrained myself from stabbing him. Jean bought dice, I bought a T-Shirt and a sticker for my helmet, and Jean got a free James Kirk card for her birthday.
By that time, Damon was ready for us, so we made our way up into the Hollywood Hills to Damon's amazingly beautiful, totally charming, utterly endearing little home. We had drinks on his astoundingly gorgeous patio, and then made our way back down the mountain to go to a place called La Poubelle, a french bistro quite literally next door to the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre. The meal was a-frikin'-mazing, and entirely fitting for Jean's birthday meal. I'd never met Damon before, but I fell instantly in love with him, and I hope we can find a way to visit (or have him and his husband visit us) more often. We went back to Damon's place to get hammered on the patio, and then turned in for the night.
A note on Damon's house: I'm serious guys, I cannot convey how amazing this place is. From the moment you step through the front gate and hear the small fountain in the garden, through the amazing open plan of the house, to the gorgeous back patio, it's an oasis of beauty and calm in the wilderness that's 2 minutes from the center of LA.
A note on Damon: He's got the coolest job ever. And I want to be him when I grow up.